The decision firmly pins YouTube’s colors to the ad-funded mast and will hand it a significant advantage in that respect over the likes of Apple, Disney and Netflix in an increasingly competitive battle for eyeballs.
The decision will allow anyone to watch content on the streaming platform for free, including killer app programming such as cult Karate Kid follow-up series Cobra kai, for free, with revenues instead being drawn from advertising partners – who contributed $15bn to YouTube’s coffers last year.
Cobra Kai has become a standard-bearer for YouTube’s new commitment to long-form scripted content with the first season now fully available while season two episodes drop on a weekly cycle – also at no cost.
Such is the ferocity of competition that content providers have become locked in an arms race of ever mushrooming programming budgets in a desperate bid to acquire market share by stumbling upon the next big hit.
Despite the move toward an ad-free funding model YouTube will not dismantle its paywall completely as much of its current library remains beholden to strict contracts with producers which mandate a paywall.
YouTube first confirmed it would cede ground behind its paywall in May in an admission that its strategy had failed.